EU travelers hoping to go to the US were gratified on Monday as, finally bowing to pressure to ease its coronavirus restrictions imposed in March of 2020, the US will allow fully-vaccinated visitors from the UK and the EU to enter the country as of November.
All those from the bloc and the UK will be welcome to visit the US beginning in November, according to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients’ statement, issued on Monday morning.
Zients told reporters “Beginning in early November, foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated — fully vaccinated and they must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US-bound airplane.”
EU travelers to the US can finally enter country in November
The response coordinator added that the early November date will give agencies and airlines “time to prepare.”
The Financial Times was the first news outlet to report the news, which comes as a welcome sign that things are beginning to return to normal, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — especially as its Delta variant continues to march across the world.
However, it comes long after the UK and the EU removed corresponding restrictions on Americans visiting Europe; US residents have been traveling across the Atlantic since early summer, although they were earlier subject to testing and having to show proof of vaccination status upon arrival.
Many thousands of foreign nationals who have family in the United States have been kept apart for more than one year.
The travel industry, surviving another very difficult year, will respond to the news with relief, after lobbying the federal government for some time, encouraging it to lift some of the draconian measures barring international tourism.
Almost all of Europe has been open to Americans who show proof of their vaccine status; the European “Green Passport,” which was supported first by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was adopted by the bloc several months later as the Summer tourism season ramped up across the Continent.
All industries involving the tourism market, including airlines, hotels and hospitality organizations, had already voiced firm support for opening the country to vaccinated tourists from abroad once again.
Zients stated that the administration is now taking steps in three key areas: testing, contact tracing, and masking, to further strengthen the safety net regarding the reopening of the country to foreign tourists.
This wishing to enter the US will be required to undergo pre-departure testing within three days before departure, with proof of a negative result. All unvaccinated Americans who wish to return to the US will be “subject to stricter testing requirements,” according to Zients; they will have to to test within one day of departure and yet again one day after arrival.
The coronavirus coordinator also stated that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will force all airlines to take contact tracing records on US-bound travelers, including phone numbers and email addresses. All airlines will be required to keep such information for a total of 30 days.
Zients explained “This will enable CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travelers and those around them if someone has potentially been exposed to Covid-19 and other pathogens.”
He added that tracing will be used more broadly in the future order to protect against “any future public health threats.”
There will be strict masking requirements on airplanes as well, with fines doubled on those who refuse to mask, according to the Transportation Safety Administration.
This new guidance will be applicable to all international travel; the Biden Administration says that it will defer to the CDC regarding the exact the definition of the term “fully vaccinated” and which vaccines will be recognized.
The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is still before the FDA, and has not been approved for emergency use in the United States; however, it is widely used in Europe and in the rest of the world.
In addition, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and China’s Sinovax have been employed by a number of nations in the fight against the coronavirus.
Regarding domestic travel, Zients told reporters that the administration is “not taking any measures off the table” when asked if there will be vaccine mandates for Americans who travel inside the US.
Zients stated that he did not have any new information regarding the entry of Canadians and Mexican residents as of Monday.
The lifting of the blanket ban on European and UK travelers comes almost eighteen months after the travel bans were first imposed in the beginning of the pandemic.
Countries in the Schengen Zone, the 26 nations of Europe, along with Ireland and the United Kingdom, were added to the list for banned travel. The nations of Brazil, South Africa and India, which had suffered enormously in the pandemic, were added subsequently.
The failure of the Biden Administration to facilitate travel to the US despite the EU opening up tourism to Americans was major sore point this Summer, as the bloc underwent successful vaccination campaigns — in many nations of the EU the rate of full vaccination is higher than in the US.
In addition, some nations which had worse case ratios than Europe were not on the no-fly list.
Eventually, European leaders began top voice their frustration publicly, even adding that the lack of reciprocal entry was damaging relations between Europe and the US.
After opening its own doors to Americans beginning in June, the EU changed its mind last month, taking the United States off its list of countries whose citizens are exempt from quarantine or testing requirements.
This who were party to the decision admitted anonymously that the ongoing frustration over the nonrecipsocity was part of the decision to remove Americans from the safe list.
Greece, however, decided on its own that Americans could continue to enter the country.